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Posts Tagged ‘cylinder tracking’

Tracking Employees With RFID? How It Translates To Cylinders

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Many GAWDA members are using bar code or RFID technology to track their cylinders. Tracking cylinders is great way to keep tabs on what’s coming in and out of the plant, but what if it could do even more?

In a recent study of RFID capabilities, tracking technology manufacturer Queralt used RFID to monitor employee movement throughout the plant, measuring productivity, times employees arrived and left, and how much time was spent on lunch. Readers at various locations detected when workers were nearby, allowing for the company to track the employees’ actual movements.

I’m not suggesting that you start monitoring your plant employees; rather, I think this suggests a possibility of advanced cylinder tracking. Maybe the flow of the plant is such that cylinders have to be moved excessively, and it is resulting in wasted time and labor. Advanced RFID tracking could provide an actual measure of unnecessary handling to determine the value of reorganizing the flow of the plant.

Or maybe RFID readers could register cylinders as a delivery truck is pulling up to the dock with empties, before the driver even gets out of the cab and opens the gate. This could save the time it takes to scan a bar code or RFID tag manually. Once registered by the RFID reader, the system could call on the data associated with each unique cylinder ID and alert plant workers as to any need for requalification, etc.

These are only a few of the possibilities. It seems to fit into the ideas of continuous improvement as well, something that a lot of distributors embrace. What else can you envision being done with cylinder tracking? It may seem like science fiction, but look at where we are today.

Cylinder Tracking As A Selling Point

Friday, October 1st, 2010

So many cylinders, so little time.Today was quite possibly one of the single most educational days since I have been writing about the gases and welding industry. Several of us here at Welding & Gases Today journeyed over to GAWDA member Haun Welding Supply, located in Syracuse, NY, where Wayne Brownson led us on a nearly two-and-a-half hour tour. (There was just that much to see!) This was the first time I had been to a fill plant, and I came away very impressed with what I saw.

Haun Welding Supply is in the process of building a new state-of-the-art, automated fill plant at their headquarters—I can’t wait to check it out when it’s finished. While we were talking cylinders, I asked him about their cylinder tracking. Wayne’s eyes lit up as he told me that I was looking at “the original cylinder tracker.”

The company tracked cylinders from very early on using a card filing system, before the system went computerized in 1979. At that point, cylinder serial numbers were entered by hand. By 1991, Haun was using bar code tracking, which helped to eliminate the occasional typographical error. Only a few years later, around 1994, they adopted RFID tracking, and have continuously honed their methods ever since.

Apart from the obvious benefits—losing fewer cylinders and creating customer accountability—Wayne explained an additional benefit I had never thought of: cylinder tracking as a selling point. He told us of one specific example of when he convinced a customer to use Haun’s gases for a large construction project because they could track the cylinders. The customer bought in, and when the project was done, 20 cylinders were still missing.

Little by little, more than a dozen were returned by individuals, some who didn’t know where they came from. Without tracking, Haun would never have known the cylinders were from that customer’s project. The customer didn’t know what to do when they received a credit for the returned cylinders—they were so used to being billed by other companies instead of credited.

Talk about leaving a good impression. Not only did cylinder tracking add value on a service level, it literally saved the customer money. You know that customer is going to come back to do repeat business.

The Future of Interactive Cylinder Tracking

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Gas cylinder bar code trackingWhen collaborating with colleagues or co-workers, have you ever had someone take the credit for your great idea? Or maybe it’s been a customer, a client or your boss who borrowed your innovative notion. We’ve all been there at some point. If only there was a way to track ideas like we can track gas cylinders.

Enter Creative Barcode, which does just that, using bar codes to track ideas. The service allows users to create a unique QR code for project files and embed ownership, date, usage and a variety of information. Unforunately, the service is a little pricey for the average thinker at just over $300 for an account with five bar codes to start.

At that cost, I’m not in a hurry to sign up, but it still got me thinking. A couple of years ago, something like this would not have been feasible. But with widespread access to smart phones and apps that are capable of reading those black and white lines, bar codes increasingly offer accessibility and interaction between company and customer.

Like cylinder tracking, idea tracking is about protecting your assets. But in addition to laying claim (a simple copyright can do that for ideas), it takes tracking to an interactive level. The Creative Barcode site notes the added capability of licensing and sharing ideas as added benefits of the bar codes.

What if bar codes could make tracking cylinders more interactive? Maybe the customer only need scan the bar code to let you know when to a refill is impending. You could impress them with a quick follow-up call. Or maybe a scan of the bar code could give the customer detailed product information, MSDS, maybe a GAWDAwiki definition. What ways could you see customers using barcodes? How could you use it to enhance your service?

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The Future of Welding & Gases

Monday, June 28th, 2010

June 2010 Welding and Gases Technology I asked four IT professionals about the future of technology in the gases and welding industry. Here’s what they had to say:

Michael Chelgren, American Welding & Gas: “There is an opportunity for mobile applications to facilitate inventory management on our trucks. Our drivers would be able to print out invoices for the customers right from the truck. Orders and deliveries could be processed on a handheld device and transmitted back to our data center and go into the system without requiring any human intervention.”

Rodney Huber, Huber Supply Company: “E-commerce is growing, but it will never replace face-to-face sales, especially in our area. Even with our online orders, customers call us to make sure they’re buying the right part. They rely on us for advice. When it comes to welding equipment, customers want to have a salesman call them and have that personal interaction. Although e-commerce will never replace personalized sales, I think it will complement it and help us reach out to new markets.”

Allison Earlbeck, Earlbeck Gases & Technologies: “From an operational perspective, file sharing could help improve our efficiency. We have the capability now with our network, but we don’t have an organized system in place. Training our staff on the system would help things run smoothly. When you have 40 or 50 employees in the same pool, it can be a big problem if something is saved in the wrong place or is accidentally moved or edited.”

Chris Bennear, Dale Oxygen: “We can do a lot more with automation and with cylinder tracking. Using RFID and microchips can help us track our cylinders when customers don’t know where the cylinders are. We can save money and preserve good customer relationships by avoiding disagreements over lost cylinders.”

To learn more from these and other young IT professionals, see their complete profiles in the June issue of GAWDA Edge.